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Berlusconi may seek return to power

Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has suggested in an interview that he will attempt a return to power - using the old party name that brought him into politics two decades ago.

In an interview in Germany's Bild newspaper, Mr Berlusconi said he is asked "often and emphatically" to step back into the political ring.

"I can only say I won't let my old People of Freedom Party down. We will soon return to the old party name, by the way: 'Forza Italia (Go Italy)'."

Mr Berlusconi rose to power in 1994 using the catchy football chant as his motto, and he dominated Italy's political scene until he was forced to resign in November with the country in a financial shambles and his personal legacy tarnished by sex and corruption scandals.

Mr Berlusconi told Bild he saw his resignation as a way to allow premier Mario Monti to use his broad support to bring about necessary changes. Mr Monti, an economist and former European Commissioner, has raised taxes and pushed through painful reforms to the pension and labour market systems. "I wanted to make reforms possible," Mr Berlusconi said.

Mr Monti has ruled out running for office when his term ends in 2013.

In recent days, members of Mr Berlusconi's inner circle have spoken openly that the media mogul would run in elections next spring. On Sunday, his one-time political heir, Angelino Alfano, essentially admitted he would step aside to make way for a new Berlusconi run.

But not all party members favour the former premier's return: Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno, for example, noted that People of Freedom members had elected Mr Alfano party secretary with the express intention of making him the centre-right candidate in 2013 elections.

In an interview with Rome daily La Repubblica, Mr Alemanno said a party primary would be necessary to determine if voters really are behind Silvio Berlusconi despite the scandals that continue to vex him.

In addition, the Northern League party, Mr Berlusconi's long-time coalition ally, no longer supports him, complicating any re-election bid. In Italy, it is common for political parties to change their names and logos in a bid to reinvent themselves, even though the politicians and policies remain essentially the same.

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